Coarse stance on bank merger issue
Judging from the recent media releases of Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) chair Dante Tinga, the DBP is pulling all stops in opposing its merger with Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank).
Tinga had described the opinion given by the Governance Commission for Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporations (GCG) on the authority of the President to order the combination of the two banks as “self-serving.”
He also said Landbank had failed in its mission, i.e., “… has not accomplished its mandate—the country is suffering from low agricultural production …”
And since, according to him, the DBP has a better track record in development financing, it should be the surviving bank, not Landbank, if the government wants to push through with the merger.
In a not so subtle dig at Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, who is behind the banks’ consolidation, Tinga cited Diokno’s apparent conflict of interest on the issue since he is a member of the GCG, the ex officio chair of Landbank (the surviving bank in the merger) and a member of the Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas that regulates the banking industry.
Meaning, Diokno cannot be expected to be objective or unbiased in his appreciation of the pros and cons of the proposed merger because he would, on account of those positions, benefit from it in the long run.
Tinga cannot be faulted for resisting the integration of the two banks. Some 3,000 DBP employees, including the board of directors he heads, stand to be adversely affected if that happens.
But that fiduciary responsibility is no excuse for him to publicly disparage or put down the integrity and professional competence of the GCG and Diokno who heads the government’s economic team.
Considering that Tinga was a former associate justice of the Supreme Court, he cannot feign lack of knowledge or ignorance of civil service rules on the proper conduct of government employees in relation to or interaction with fellow workers in government.
The rule of thumb is any dispute or disagreement on policies and procedures by or among government offices or their officials should be resolved internally either through written memos or, better still, through in-person meetings.
In the latter case, the parties are expected to abide by any agreements that may have been entered into and maintain the confidentiality of their discussions unless otherwise required by law to be disclosed.
The washing of dirty linen in public or using the media to gain popular support on an issue is taboo because the denigration or humiliation of one government office would reflect badly on the rest of the bureaucracy.
Nothing would make the critics of any administration jump with joy than see its key government officials criticize each other and make a spectacle of themselves in public.
Besides, that would be fodder for gossip in the private sector as to the motivation or endgame of the wrangling which often is unfavorable to the parties involved.
Recall that in similar situations in the past, when high ranking government officials were at loggerheads over certain issues, the executive secretary then, in his capacity as “first among equals” in the Cabinet, would intervene to prevent further embarrassment to the administration.
And the first order usually given to them is “shut up!”
Noticeably, in this case, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin has done nothing along those lines despite the fact that President Marcos had already given his go-signal to the merger.
Perhaps, Bersamin does not want to embarrass Tinga, his “upperclassman” in the Supreme Court, if he orders him to go through official channels in voicing his opposition to the consolidation and to refrain from airing it in the media.
Among lawyers, there is a comic advice on court cases that reads: “If you are strong on the facts, pound on the facts; if you are strong on the law, pound on the law; if neither one is strong, pound on the table!”
Go figure if that advice is being applied in the proposed DBP-Landbank merger. INQ
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